Jail term cut - because thief is obese

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A MORBIDLY obese woman who stole more than £43,000 from her family has had her sentence slashed after judges were told of her poor health.

Julie Ann Ward, aged 48, stole and pawned her sister’s jewellery and defrauded her 77-year-old uncle of thousands of pounds.

She admitted theft and fraud at Sheffield Crown Court last August, and was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

But that sentence was reduced to two-and-a-half years at the Court of Appeal in London.

Lord Justice Laws said: “Although these were mean and nasty offences, given her state of health and previous clean character three-and-a-half years is too long.”

Mr Justice MacDuff said ‘morbidly obese’ Ward targeted her sister, Sadie Gilbank, and her uncle, Jack Weston, to pay debts and buy clothes.

Her financial troubles began when her partner died, leaving her owing money and under pressure from debt collection agencies.

While helping out her elderly uncle, she removed large sums of money from his savings, totalling more than £43,000.

And, when left with the keys to her sister’s home when Mrs Gilbank was on holiday, she stole and pawned £2,500 worth of jewellery.

Ward, of Waverley View, Catcliffe, suffered serious weight issues, as well as symptoms of depression, the court heard.

She will serve half her new sentence in prison before being released on licence.